New Delhi: India and China will hold the 13th round of Corps Commander meeting on Sunday morning to discuss disengagement from the Hot Springs area in the Ladakh sector.
The talks are being held even as Army chief Gen. M.M. Naravane said on Saturday that if the Chinese military maintained its large-scale deployment through the second winter, it may lead to an LoC-like situation (Line of Control) though not an active LoC is there on the western front with Pakistan. He said in response to Chinese deployment, the Indian Army too would maintain its presence on its side which is "as good as what the PLA (People’s Liberation Army) has done".
The Corps Commanders talks are scheduled at 10:30 am in Moldo on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
During the 12th round of the Corps Commander meeting, both sides had agreed to pull back from Gogra. Before Gogra, Indian and Chinese troops had disengaged from Galwan Valley and Pangong Tso in Ladakh. India and China had undertaken partial disengagement in Hot Springs last year so an agreement on a pullback from it could be reached.
However, till now China has shown no interest to deescalate the situation in Depsang plains where it is blocking Indian troops from patrolling.
The talks are being held on Saturday even as new propaganda pictures of Indian soldiers under PLA custody from last year are being circulated on Chinese social media. This is in response to India and Chinese face-off in Arunachal Pradesh last week where some reports suggested that a small group of PLA soldiers was detained by Indian troops.
"Yes, it is a matter of concern that the large-scale build-up has occurred and continues to be in place, and to sustain that kind of a build-up, there has been an equal amount of infrastructure development on the Chinese side," Gen. Naravane said.
"So, it means that they (PLA) are there to stay. We are keeping a close watch on all these developments, but if they are there to stay, we are there to stay too," he said.
"But what this would, especially if they continue to stay there through the second winter, definitely mean that we will be in a kind of LoC situation though not an active LC is there on the western front," he said.
"But definitely, we will have to keep a close eye on all the troop build-up and deployments to see that they do not get into any misadventure once again," the Army chief said. He said that it is difficult to understand why China triggered the standoff when the world was reeling under the Covid-19 pandemic and when that country had certain issues on its eastern seaboard. "While all that is going on, to sort of open up one more front is very difficult to understand or fathom," he said.
"But whatever it might have been, I do not think they have been able to achieve any of those because of the rapid response done by the Indian armed forces," the Army Chief added.
Asked to comment on the overall situation in eastern Ladakh, Gen. Naravane referred to a recent statement by a spokesperson in the ministry of external affairs and said he had clearly mentioned that whatever had happened on the Northern border was because of the massive build-up by the Chinese side and the non-adherence to various protocols.
"So that is very clear as to what was the trigger for all that has happened," Gen. Naravane said. The Army chief said following the standoff in eastern Ladakh, the Indian Army realised that it needed to do more in the area of ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance).